|DATE||Sunday 23rd September 2012|
|VENUE||White Hart Lane|
With the revolving door having moved to Loftus Road in the summer,
there were many comings and goings. Mark Hughes was busy in
the transfer window bringing in Julio Cesar, Robert Green, Fabio,
Jose Bosingwa, Ryan Nelsen, Ji-Sung Park, Staphane Mbia and Junior
As expected the side haven't quite clicked yet and I hope today isn't the day that they get it together, although they got a good draw against Chelsea last week in the Handshake-gate match.
Spurs will need to be alert to the likes of Bobby Zamora, who can still hit the target, alongside Hoilett, who is a pacy and talented young player, who was watched by Spurs last season. Djibril Cisse is also available and with his record of scoring or getting sent off in almost each game he played for QPR last season, it certainly makes him one to watch. Another option would be to bring in Jamie Mackie, who doesn't look the most elegant footballer, but he does have a knack of scoring goals.
Park has been brought in to add experience and a dynamic engine to the midfield, while Mbia also offers some strength in the middle of the park, but he is likely to miss the game with injury. With Shaun Wright-Phillips pacy on the flank, there may be a threat from there, but he might be pushed back by our full backs pressing on. Perhaps the most interesting signing in the summer was that of Real Madrid midfielder Esteban Granero, who is a player with the ability to produce moments of magic, which made it surprising that the Spanish club let him go, but with Modric joining them, perhaps they thought he would not find a place in their side. There may be some occasions on which he goes missing and that may hurt QPR, but if they build a midfield around him with three willing workers, it might cover for his shortcomings. Shaun Derry might be one of those minders, but he is getting on a bit and his pace might leave him struggling against some younger opponents. Keiron Dyer has managed a few games this season after an injury-torn career and he might add a bit of experience to the team. Unfortunately, another who may well miss the game is our former mercurial midfielder Adel Taarabt. Whether QPR will miss his step-overs is another question, but he is dangerous from free-kicks, having scored the winner at Loftus Road against us last season, before he got a red card.
The defence is missing Anton Ferdinand and Armand Traore through injury, but a familiar face in Ryan Nelsen will be featuring, with Nedum Onuoha, Clint Hill and Jose Bosingwa making up the defensive four. There may be too much there for Jermain Defoe to deal with on his own, so the support from the three behind him will test the Rangers back line. The pace down the flanks could once more be the key to opening them up, but we will need to get people into the box to make the most of the chances made.
It will be interesting to see Julio Cesar in action, as he had a torrid time when he faced Spurs with Internazionale, but had a good game last week and took over from Rob Green straight away, so Tottenham need to test him early on and keep peppering him with shots.
Spurs should have enough to get the three points, but Hughes is making QPR a more difficult team to play against, with a solidity about the side eventually planned to act as a base to launch attacks from. I don't think the Rangers full backs will be getting forward too much, so Spurs need to keep the pressure on them and support from midfield, where the visitors might pack the middle of the park to make it difficult to play through.
Spurs managed it against a defensive Lazio side, but lacked the luck in front of goal, but today they need to make their own luck.
|PREDICTION||Tottenham Hotspur 2 QPR 0|
|Click here for more info on opponents - stats v thfc , an alternative history, etc.|
HOTSPUR TEAM NEWS :
Spurs will give Emmanuel Adebayor a fitness test on his hamstring injury and Kyle Naughton should be fit to play after getting a nasty set of studs in his leg on Thursday against Lazio. Ruled out are Heurelho Gomes (ankle), Jake Livermore (groin), Scott Parker (Achilles), Younes Kaboul (knee) and Benoit Assou-Ekotto (knee). Everyone else should be available.
QPR TEAM NEWS :
Rangers will be missing Andy Johnson (knee ligament), Armand Traore (knock), Fabio (hamstring), Adel Taarabt (hamstring), Stephane Mbia (groin) and Anton Ferdinand (hamstring).
The game will
be covered live in ...
available on BBC radio, it can supposedly be heard
in these countries on these stations ...
2 (0) QPR 1 (1)
Sunday 23rd September 2012 Kick off 16:00
White Hart Lane
Faurlin (own goal) 60
Granero (persistent fouling)
|Crowd : 36,025||Weather : Wet, chilly|
|Referee : Phil Dowd (Stoke-on-Trent)||Assistant Referees : J. Flynn, L. Betts (-)|
|Fourth Official : Mike Jones (Cheshire)||-|
|QPR kicked off and played towards the Paxton Road end in the first half.|
|Tottenham Hotspur :||kit||QPR :||kit|
Andros TOWNSEND 90)
18 Jermain DEFOE
15 Nedum ONUOHA
|Manager : Andre Villas-Boas||Manager : Mark Hughes|
|Sponsor : Aurasma||Shirt sponsor : Air Asia|
|Kit Supplier : Under Armour||Kit Supplier : Lotto|
This was a game that was the original "game of two halves", with Spurs failing to show up until half-time, by which time they were 0-1 down, before kick starting themselves at the break to go on to win 2-1.
They way Tottenham, performed in the first half made QPR look like Barcelona, as they passed Spurs off the park, by closing them down high up the pitch, forcing Spurs to turn over the ball far too often. That allowed Rangers to move the ball wide and get it into the box, testing Spurs defensively and bringing two very good saves from Brad Friedel.
Spurs had started with Clint Dempsey in the three behind Jermain Defoe, alongside Aaron Lennon and Gylfi Sigurdsson. Gareth Bale had had to drop back to left back with Kyle Naughton not being ready to play after getting a horrible kick on his foot on Thursday in the Lazio match. This move unbalanced the Spurs team and left Bale restricted in what he could do, with no cover if he rampaged forward. Thus the Tottenham attacking regime was limited and when we did attack, Defoe had to battle with three defenders most of the time, ending with the ball coming back towards our goal.
The first chance of the game dropped Tottenham's way with Lennon making way down the right to get to the side-line and pull the ball back for Defoe. He had a shot blocked and Sigurdsson was on it in a flash, but collided with Hill and the chance was gone. The one thing that came out of that move was that Jose Bosingwa picked up a hamstring pull and had to leave the action. He was substituted by Kieron Dyer, which must have been a strange experience for him - coming on after three minutes rather than going off after that time !! He really must be the only player who has his previous appearances for clubs listed in minutes rather than games.
But with the defence having to be reshuffled and having a midfielder and Ryan Nelsen playing in the back four, Spurs still didn't pressurise the make-shift defence. This allowed QPR to push forward with Spurs chasing the ball and a fifth minute corner picked out Hill at the far post, where he rose to head powerfully at goal, only for Friedel to throw out a strong hand to his right to push the ball over the bar. it was a very good stop and the Spurs keeper had to be on his toes in the 14th minute, as Walker jumped under a cross and Junior Hoilett chested the ball down to hit a volley at goal, which Brad dived to his left to palm away well.
It was from a corner that Rangers took the lead, with the ball coming out, but Defoe and Dembele both losing out in challenges on the edge of the box before Faurlin slid a ball down the right side of the six yard box for Bobby Zamora to lift the ball over Friedel as he dived out. It had been coming, as Spurs struggled to impose themselves on the game and QPR put in a lot of effort to deny Spurs the time and space to play.
Zamora had been leading the line well. With Hoilett playing just behind him in the hole, long balls up front to him were either flicked on to his partner or held up until support arrived. Too often, when a Spurs player had the bal, there was no option for him to play it to. One QPR move saw Hoilett fire in a low effort that Friedel had to go to his right to push away and the home fans were starting to get irritable. This lead to the predictable boos at the interval.
Inspiring the fans, if not the players at half-time were paralympians gold medal rower Pam Relph and 200m sprint gold medallist Richard Whitehead. Their success over-coming their adversities make footballers look a great deal more pampered and precious, but Whitehead said that two goals in the second half and three points would make his visit all the better. I don't know if he could be heard in the dressing room, but his words should have shamed the Spurs team into action.
It seemed that was the case when the second half kicked off, with AVB bringing on Steven Caulker for Sigurdsson. This saw Dempsey pushed further forward as well as Bale, with Vertonghen moving to left back. Almost immediately, there was a greater fluidity about Tottenham and the Belgian's ball in from the left causing Hill to head away under pressure. Hoilett had an opportunity to shoot when Zamora nodded onto him, but Caulker got in the way to block the way to goal and then Dempsey pulled the trigger on a 25 yarder that saw Cesar tested for the first time and not deal with it that well, pushing it away. The keeper was starting to look a little nervy now that pressure was being put on him, as he dived out to punch away a Bale cross unconvincingly and then a Bale corner ended with Caulker heading the ball into the six yard box, with the keeper pushing the ball up and causing a scramble with Defoe unable to get the important touch to finish it off.
Tottenham were getting more joy up the flanks now and Lennon's breakaway run saw him lift a little cross into the far post, but nobody was there and the ball was put out for a corner. Bale took it and Caulker met it with his head at the far post, intelligently heading it back into the goalmouth. Jermain Defoe was there and jumped for it, but was never going to get it, but he fooled Alejandro Faulrin, who turned his back as it went past the Spurs striker and the ball bounced off his shoulder and into the net past a static Cesar.
It was a relief that the equaliser had come, as Rangers looked like they were riding their luck, so with exactly half an hour left, Spurs had to go on to try and win it. But it didn't take half an hour. It took about 90 seconds.
A QPR attack broke down from the kick off and Vertonghen lead the charge forward up the left wing. With Bale outside him as he moved infield, he slipped the ball wide to the Welshman, who drilled a low shot that had all the hallmarks of his goals against Inter Milan. Only this time, Cesar got a touch on the ball with his foot that took it up onto the bar and out. It looked as though it wasn't going to be our day, but fortune smiled on Tottenham, as it dropped to Defoe on the edge of the six yard box to take a touch and drill it low under the man on the line and into the net. Cue thunderous roar and excited celebrations. Even those around us how booed at half-time were jumping up and down. How a couple of minutes can change people's perceptions.
Spurs were now on their best attacking form. Bale pinged a shot from the left across Cesar's goal that missed the far post by inches, then Dempsey hit the Brazilian keeper with a shot from inside the box. But Tottenham were indebted to Jan Vertonghen when Hoilett took a poor clearance out of our box and looked certain to pull Rangers level from just inside our box, but as he pulled his foot back, the Spurs summer signing produced a tackle of Ledley King proportions to take the ball off him. Any sort of mis-timing would have conceded a penalty and the fact that Vertonghen came out of nowhere was a tribute to his reading of the situation and his reaction timing.
Caulker won yet another header from a set-piece when he headed Bale's corner two feet over the bar. This could become a useful tactic, as Spurs have not dominate din the air in the opponent's penalty area for a long time. He was also using his height at the back, as he headed away cross after cross, making him look like a real prospect, both for club and country.
Bale had another chance, this time popping up on the right side of the box, before taking the ball close to Cesar's goal and smacking a shot into his chest. Next u. with five minutes left, was Jermain Defoe, who was played through by Dempsey, but the forward could not quite get his 200th career goal, as he was crowded out, after taking a touch too many. Lennon went on a long run and despite Faurlin's vain attempt to cynically chop him down, found the ball played off Hill for a corner. Spurs looked to keep the ball in the corner, but this is never a good tactic for us and before you knew it the ball was going up to our end again. Luckily, Granero, the signing from Real Madrid shot high over the bar, with his main contribution to the game some petty persistent fouling that brought him a booking, but only twice after Dowd had warned him for it.
In fact, Dowd had a poor match. Usually one of the more sensible refs, today, he must have been affected by the rain, as the grasp he has of the laws of the game slipped today. Twice the ball popped up onto hands in the box. Not hand to ball, but that isn't necessary these days, so when he failed to give the one by Wright-Phillips, who had his hand up near shoulder level, it prompted an East Stand supporter to throw his programme onto the pitch. With it being so wet, it did nothing but flutter a foot inside the line, but even that did not help Spurs fans feel that it was getting near equaliser time.
The fact that Spurs used their pace against a tiring and strung out QPR team helped allay those fears. In the last minute, substitute Andros Townsend outpaced any Rangers player near him on the left wing and his ball across to Defoe had goal written all over it, but the striker's low shot saw Cesar pull of a good low stop to his right. And then it was over.
Not a classic, but a hard fought win after a tactical and personnel change by AVB which might inform him as to how the future play should be conducted. The one thing last season at home especially was the attacking threat pushed teams back and dulled their own efforts going forward. I think that one thing this match proved was that we are better at home playing two up front, but then you don't have to be a tactical genius to see that. It might even be suitable playing away from home, as then, it will not give the other side the luxury of having two men spare at the back who can bolster the side going forward.
Rangers played well and they may have enough to stay up, but there is still a journeyman feel to their team. Too many players who have not done it at a high enough level to salvage something from Rangers spending to take them to that elusive next level. Their desperate attempts to chop down Lennon, Bale and Townsend were crude in the extreme and may lead to some suspensions coming their way if that is how they are going to deal with pace. Allied with their lack of scoring prowess, it may be a tough season for the West London club.
As for Tottenham, there is a little more hope on the horizon, but also there is Manchester United, waiting at Old Trafford for them. It will be an interesting tactical battle, with United not playing to their peak form and Spurs still finding their feet.
Here's to more of the second half football we played !!
The Heathrow Spur
|Match ball sponsors||-|
|Match programme sponsors||-|
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|What you thought|
|Other scores during this week :|
|West Bromwich Albion||1||Reading||0||Saturday|
|West Ham United||1||Sunderland||1||Saturday|
|Newcastle United||1||Norwich City||0||Sunday|
|4||West Bromwich Albion||5||3||1||1||7||4||10||+3|
|9||West Ham United||5||2||2||1||5||4||8||+1|
|19||Queens Park Rangers||5||0||2||3||3||11||2||-8|
Position before match :
Position after match : 8th
Position after the weekend : 8th
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